Arkansas judge is charged in death of son left in hot car

AP News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2016 4:31 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge was arrested Thursday on a complaint of negligent homicide after the death of his son who was left in the back seat of a hot car last summer.

An arrest warrant filed in Garland County says Circuit Court Judge Wade Naramore faces the misdemeanor charge for negligently causing the death of his 18-month-old son, Thomas Naramore. Special Prosecutor Scott Ellington said in a news release that Naramore surrendered at the Garland County Detention Center, where he was booked and released on $5,000 bond Thursday morning.

Naramore's attorney, Patrick Benca, didn't immediately return a phone call for comment.

Thomas Naramore died July 24 after being left in a hot car for about five hours, according to the warrant.

Court documents say the judge called 911 about 3:10 p.m. on July 24 asking for help, saying, "My son was left in the car and I think, I think he's dead." The warrant says officers responded to the address about a block from Naramore's home and found his car in the road with the door open. A resident from a nearby home waved officers into his house where Naramore was holding his son, yelling, "No my baby!"

The toddler was pronounced dead at the home. His core temperature was determined to be 107 degrees. Naramore told emergency medical responders his son had been in the car for about five hours.

During a Nov. 23 interview, Naramore told investigators that he took his son to McDonald's for breakfast that morning, which was not their usual routine. He told them he had a court case he was worried about that day, and that he went to work "as he did each day," according to court documents.

Naramore told investigators he left work early, ran errands and went home. That afternoon, he got inside the car to pick his son up from day care. About a block from his home, the judge said he heard a noise in the rear of the car and when he looked, he realized he had not taken his son to day care and that he was still in his car seat.

Naramore volunteered to not hear cases during the investigation. David Sachar, executive director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, said Naramore has maintained some judicial duties such as signing uncontested orders and managing his staff.

Sachar said now that Naramore faces a charge, the commission will meet in the next 10 days to decide whether to ask the state Supreme Court to suspend Naramore until disciplinary proceedings are concluded. Those proceedings include the criminal court case and a commission investigation.

"The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission will have to consider both violations of the canons as a discipline issue as well as make a disability determination concerning the judge's overall fitness to be on the bench," Sachar said.

He said a judge can choose not to contest a suspension, which is paid leave under the commission's rules.